Thursday, September 20, 2007

Worst Children's Book....EVER!!!

Yesterday, Intuitive Monkey's kindergarten class went to the school library, got their library cards and were allowed to check out a book. He came home with a colorful book entitled, Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People and War.

Supposed message of the book: Elephants are honored for their needless, noble deaths during wartime in Japan....oh yeah, and war is bad.

Actual message of the book: Japanese zookeepers are stupid and cruel.

The book opens in a zoo with a man maintaining a memorial for three elephants that died at the zoo during wartime. The guard of the memorial expounds on their deaths, explaining that during a war the zookeepers of the zoo were worried about bombs that might break open the cages of the wild animals, letting them loose on the streets of Tokyo.

Their solution? Why to kill all the animals, of course! Because, if you kill all the animals before they get loose, then that will save you from having to needlessly shoot them later if the zoo is hypothetically bombed, hypothetically breaking open the cages without killing the animals inside them.

Now you get where the stupid part comes in. I guess transporting them somewhere else or just taking your chances was too inconceivable to these zookeepers. But wait, it gets better.

Once they have killed most of the animals by poisoning their food, they have three elephants left to dispose of. They try feeding the first one some poisoned potatoes, but he picks out all the poison ones and only eats the good ones. They try to inject the poison into him, but his skin is too thick and breaks the needles. What's an idiot zookeeper to do? Why starve the animal to death. Yes! That's the solution to this entire mess!!

And so, they starve the elephant.

Well that seemed to have done the trick, so they take the same route with the remaining two elephants, pausing only for a day or two when one of the zookeepers suffers from a guilty conscience and actually feeds and waters the animals. He recovers from that soon enough and the starvation is on again. The pesky elephants finally die after a couple of weeks.

The last part of the story talks about the zookeepers doing an autopsy and declares that not even a drop of water was found in the elephants stomachs. We're back to the stupid part again. After all, why else would you need to do an autopsy to figure out that the animals you just starved to death have no water or food in their stomachs? It's also lovely to try and explain what the word "autopsy" means to a child!

Finally, the book ends with the guard polishing this memorial to these elephants who made such a huge sacrifice for the war.

That's funny. I thought a sacrifice was something you did willingly for the greater good, not something that someone forced you to do out of idiocy and cruelty.

I guess there weren't any rifles around in wartime Japan to shoot these elephants. Wouldn't a bullet to the head have been so much more merciful than torturing live animals with an excruciating death of wasting away? Oh that's right, I forgot, the zookeepers were stupid and cruel.

This is the most disturbing "children's" book I have ever read. Recounting the story as a parable about the insanity of war is bad enough, but trying to portray what happened as somehow noble and worthy of a memorial pushes the bounds of any sane person's interpretation. Yuck.

I can't believe that the school library wasted money on such a despicable tale.


Your Hubby said...

I have to admit it was perhaps the most bizarre children's story I have ever read. I got to the end and was like, "huh? that's it?" Kind of makes the Brothers Grimm's stuff seem pretty normal... ;-)

terri said...

Maybe next week he'll bring home a book about clubbing baby seals! :-(